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Student shares experience in New Zealand

February 28, 2013

Fall 2012 CSU Study Abroad student and Gilman scholar writes about what her study abroad means now that she has returned to CSU.

I studied food science and human nutrition at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand in the fall of 2012. When I applied for the study abroad program with the Office of International Programs at CSU, I was fairly certain that without significant financial support, I would not be able to fund my study abroad. I knew that I would be doing myself an injustice if I did not try. I almost could not believe it when scholarships from the Office of International Programs, the College of Applied Human Sciences, and the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship fulfilled the expenses of my study abroad program. I have much gratitude and appreciation for these scholarships and their sponsors, because I would not have been able to study abroad without their support.

Completing a service project

The Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship is a generous study abroad scholarship awarded to Pell-grant eligible students pursuing an education abroad experience. One requirement is service project, which must be completed within six months of the student’s return to the United States. My project is a blog which focuses on the logistics, challenges, adventures, and findings of study abroad at Lincoln University. I have geared my posts toward my peers in the human sciences, who are underrepresented in education abroad, because they often find it hard to meet curriculum requirements abroad.

New relationships a highlight

I learned more in six months in New Zealand than I have in the past six years in Colorado. The time away was so good for me. I have returned with a greater self-confidence, better understanding of myself, and a more worldly view of myself as an American and global citizen. A highlight of my experience was the deep relationships that I shared with other international students. New Zealand is renowned for its representation of people from all around the world. I experienced much cultural diversity. The friends that I hope to visit someday were from Saudi Arabia, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and France. Not only did I make some life-long friends, but I gained a greater understanding of their cultures and of how their peoples perceived the American culture. I think the biggest challenge for me during the whole experience was saying goodbye to my dear friends.

Down to earth

What I liked most about New Zealand as a country was the mentality of the people (they call themselves Kiwis). I felt like the Kiwis in the Christchurch area were very down-to-earth and spent their energy on things that really matter. It was refreshing to be part of a society whose focus was largely on relationships with other people, the land, and New Zealand’s natural precious resources. This belief in creating good relationships with other people was immediately obvious; the Kiwis were the most honest, trusting society of people I have ever lived amongst. I try to emanate these qualities in my own interactions. The Kiwis were very connected to their families and friends. I will try to be more Kiwi-like in that respect as I continue life in the USA.

The experiences that I had in New Zealand will stick with me for my entire life. I would encourage any student with the desire for adventure to put themselves out there and go abroad!

Willa Johnson

About Willa Johnson

Willa Johnson is a junior Nutrition and Food Science major. She studied the fall of 2012 through the CSU-sponsored program at Lincoln University in New Zealand. Johnson funded her experience through several scholarships, including the Gilman International Scholarship, the OIP Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship, and a departmental scholarship through the College of Applied Human Sciences.

Fund your study abroad experience

CSU Study Abroad is has many resource options available for funding a study abroad experience. Check the calendar for financial aid/study abroad workshops and other events or check the website for other resources.

The Gilman International Scholarship for summer and fall 2013 applicants is due March 5, 2013. For spring applicants, it is due in early October. The OIP Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship for summer applicants is due March 1 and April 15 for fall and academic year applicants. For a departmental scholarship, students should apply through the CSUSA scholarship, which is due March 1, or consult with their department to learn more about applying for departmental scholarships.

Stop by Study Abroad

Feel free to stop in the CSU Study Abroad office during walk-in hours Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m.- noon and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3 p.m. in Laurel Hall Room 008. You can also visit the website for more information.

Contact: Julia Helminiak
Phone: (970) 491-6342